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My Life With Horses

Regal Brown, Prelim Eventer 1980

Lebrero, PRE Stallion -  I purchased Leo during a trip to Spain in 2015. Sadly, I put him on consignment with 
Julio Mendoza in 2016 due to "Old Home Crisis!"

Lebrero at home, 2015

Skyliner, Oldenburg, 2009. He was the reason I stepped into the world of natural horsemanship.  I am immensely  thankful,  as it has made me a much better horsewoman, trainer and rider.

 

Incognito, homebred Dutch x TB 1994. The most difficult but also most talented horse I've ever worked with. I wish I had known then about stomach ulcers and natural horsemanship, as I believe things could have been very different.

Touch And Go, TB, 1994

Riding Pippin, 1979 

My father riding his horse, Chunky.

Riding Pippin in the UK Pony Club 50th Jubilee at the Peterborough Agricultural Show 1979

  From Eventing in the UK to...       FEI Dressage in the USA.

          

   Regal Brown, Prelim Eventer, 1982                             Radiance, Danish X TB, Prix St. George, 2007

The Here And Now

2012 To Present

I sit here typing this on a snowy day, spring 2021, inside my “not quite finished, but getting there” home and “ there’s light at the end of the tunnel…oh no it’s an oncoming train” circa 1790-1820 hillside homestead, SILVERTHWAITE FARM COTTAGE.  

The farm is primarily our home and sanctuary, with beautiful landscaped gardens and pond; it is an idyllic hillside setting for my own horses and a place where my students can visit with their horses for lessons and training. It is also a great setting for fun meetings and parties as I love entertaining! 

But it as not always this way. My husband and I are gluttons for punishment (and at times I think we must be mad)! This being our fourth (and almost derelict) DIY home renovation and our second farm overhaul in our 36-year marriage. I won’t burden you with all the details, but suffice to say we had a plan, but “things” got in the way and went pear shaped (and down the rabbit hole we went), so progress has been very slow, expensive, exhausting and not at all on my timeline!  All our properties presented huge challenges.  But my husband with his ‘don’t worry I can do that” approach to life, when often he didn’t have a clue, but figured things out; and me, with both practical, creative and artistic designs, which continuously pop into my head and drive my husband nuts, we manage to find a way through! And then there’s my ongoing garden and landscaping designs... 

The downside to this latest property was the need for me to sell my horses and step back from my teaching business for years.  Something I’d never imagined doing, but for various reasons a necessary decision.   

 So many life lessons to take from this, aka MINDSET… something we can all reflect on. Setting goals, having a plan, being flexible, enjoying the process, believing in one’s self (note to self ‘stop beating yourself up’), knowing when to change course, when to stick with it and, when to go with the flow, always striving to keep moving forward, onward and upwards in some form or fashion! I bring all these elements with me as a free-lance mentor, instructor, coach and trainer. And always remembering The Three T’s – THINGS TAKE TIME.  

2005-2012

I developed a free-lance teaching business, teaching clinics and lessons throughout MD and VA. Competed my homebred and self trained, one-eyed horse Radiance, at Prix St George for the first time, and within only 3 or 4 rides won my scores for my USDF silver medal! Then I purchased Skyliner in 2009, a lovely youngster who had been very badly started and abused (and is the reason why I stepped into the world of “Natural Horsemanship”). Meanwhile, renovating house #3. 

 

1990-2005

WINTERBOURNE FARM, TN  

In 1990 we bought our second house, and began our first farm renovation and within a few weeks of the purchase, I gave birth to my daughter Sara!  

I developed a 12-stall boarding and training business; developed a free-lance teaching business, teaching eventing and dressage to pony clubbers and adult amateurs. I went on to breed and trained several horses, including Radiance aka Rupert, who I trained through Prix St George. What a wonderful horse he was! (Rupert became my science project into understanding and treating stomach ulcers. At that time, vets had only recently realized their significance in horses). I competed my own horses in eventing and dressage and fox hunted, ran a dressage schooling show series from my farm (6 shows a year) offering year end awards. I also coached several pony club National Championship Teams and judged 4H dressage at State and Regional level. I became involved with the local dressage club, Central Tennessee Dressage Association (CTDA) and held the position of Chairman of CTDA for 4 years and was an active member of the board for 8 years. Other than my husband helping mow on weekends, I was a “one man show”! 

1985 -1990

I married my husband Alan, (an American Airforce member stationed in England) in 1985 and moved directly to SAC Airforce Base in Omaha NE. I developed a free-lance teaching and training business there and again in 1987-1989 when we moved to Maryland for the first time (old home renovation #1). 

                      

Yvonne on Grula, fox hunting, Nebraska, 1985.               Yvonne on Blue Danube, with Lowell Boomer 1986. 

My Life In England

I purchased my first pony when I was 10 and I had a very varied horse education. From hacking around the British countryside for hours with friends; as a BHS Pony Club and Riding Club member competing as both an individual and team member in eventing (training/preliminary level), show jumping (4’6”), and fox hunting and team chasing (many times on run away horses), I had what I consider a very good grounding! None of my horses were fancy, but I certainly learned a huge amount from each one. I didn’t own a horse trailer so would hack my horses to and from horse shows and hunt meets, often an hour and a half ride each way! Many times I would be riding down the edge of a main road for miles, in pitch darkness, with my father driving his car behind me to light the way.

<span style="><span style=" open=" "="" font-size="font-size">Aged 9, I started riding at Stoneacre Equestrian Centre, (owned by Geoffrey and Ann Chandler, Fellows of The British Horse Society (FBHS) - the highest attainable BHS qualification) under their daughter Sheila (BHSI). The standard of horsemanship, horse care and training far exceeded anything I had ever experienced and set the bar for the future.

I became a working student for Sheila in 1979, for 6 months to train for the British Horse Society Assistant Instructors Exam.  During my training, I had the opportunity to ride and school top quality horses in dressage and over fences, as well as starting young horses under saddle, retraining off the track TB's and exercising steeplechasers.

Once a BHSAI, I started my free-lance teaching business in England. I didn’t have my own training premises, so I drove around from farm to farm, teaching anyone with a desire to learn. I trained every type and breed of horse & pony and taught children as young as 3 years and adults as old as 84 years of age.  I was a regular instructor and examiner for the Cambridgeshire, Fitzwilliam, Burghley, Newmarket & Thurlow and Littleport Pony Clubs and also several BHS Riding Clubs. I also continued to compete and train my own horses.  In 1982 I passed the BHS Intermediate Instructors Certificate (made up of two separate exams – BHS Intermediate Teachers exam and BHS Stage IV Riding and Stable Management exam)

 In 1983 I was hired by Comberton Community College to design a series of horsemanship classes for novice horse owners, who perhaps had not had the chance to learn through the pony club system. The course ran for 10 weeks (one evening class per week) and was very successful. The following year, a further 9 colleges requested I run the classes, as well as a repeat course at Comberton College. In the spring of 1985 Comberton College asked me to be in attendance for a visit by His Royal Highness, the Duke of Edinburgh. During the event, I was presented to HRH Prince Philip for an informal conversation. A lovely chat, with tea and biscuits and of course the subject was horses...quite an unexpected moment!